BANGS — Bangs High School’s four-member ag mechanics team wanted to win it all in FFA national competition, held Oct. 29-Nov. 1 at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds.

They didn’t quite manage that goal, but the team’s outstanding performance netted a fourth-place finish. Team members Rylan Cates, Wyatt Lykins, Trey Ivey and Samuel Packer, all juniors, were among 180 students from 45 states who competed.

Bangs ag teacher Caleb Gamblin was proud of his students’ fourth-place finish, saying the students had prepared over the summer and into the school year for the stringent competition.

“The mount of work and effort they put into it was unbelievable,” Gamblin said.

The team advanced to national competition after wining state at Sam Houston State University in May. It had been more than 80 years since Bangs High School had qualified anyone for a FFA national competition, according to research by Gamblin and fellow ag teacher Marshal Stork.

Bangs High School actually qualified two teams last spring for nationals — ag mechanics and homesite evaluation judging.

In an email to other Bangs teachers, Gamblin explained the components of the competition and credited the teachers for their work in educating the students.

“This just goes to show how much of an impact you as teachers are making on these students,” Gamblin told his fellow teachers. “Without every one of you from elementary through high school, these students wouldn’t have been as competitive as they were at the national level.”

The national competition included:

• Written exam — included high level math questions and science questions. Cates and Lykins had a perfect score and Wyatt missed only one question.

• Team activity — the team had to complete a task, type a written report, complete a service work order and bill of materials in 2.5 hours. Students were graded on teamwork. The Bangs students received a perfect score for teamwork, lost only 1 point on written exam and scored 230 out of 250 on the task, which included working on a small engine, looking at a customer complaint to troubleshoot engine malfunctions, ordering new parts and returning the engine to proper working order.

• Individual skills rotation — students had 25 minutes each to complete a task in each of the following five skill areas:

Machinery and equipment — students worked on a skid steer that thad three malfunctions, students had to find and repair.

Structural systems — welding

Electrical systems — wired an outlet and breaker box.

Environmental and natural resources — used surveying equipment to determine slope and elevation, distance and elevation change. Students determined peak water runoff rates for a 100-acre farm.

Compact equipment — Students worked on a small Kohler engine, determined the engine RPM, determined multiple specifications for the engine and installed push rods, rocker arms, cylinder head bottles, valve cover and injection. Cates and Lykins scored 27 out of 30 points.

“It was awesome to have the opportunity to go to a national contest,” Cates said. “I really enjoyed it. It was my first time flying. That was fun. I got to see see some cool places — Indianapolis Fairgrounds, the Motor Speedway … It got to see a bunch of cool things. I hope to be able to do it again in another contest.”

Here is a link to a May 11 Bulletin article: